MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Hurdling over hay bales, crawling through pipes, braving two mud pits and running 3.5 miles. This may sound like a Marine Corps run, but this was the Run Amuck, a race hosted by the Marine Corps Marathon that tested the endurance and speed of 2,130 runners August 14 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
While most races end with the runners drenched in sweat, the draw of this race was to get dirty, said Rick Nealis, the director of the Marine Corps Marathon.
“It’s a culture thing. When we’re young, we’re told to stay out of the mud. Well, now we’re saying to get muddy and wet,” he said.
Runners faced a variety of obstacles and exercises, ranging from crawling under barbed wire to ten jumping jacks, but the mud pits were where most of the fun was, said Jessi Cisewski, a graduate student from Chapel Hill, N.C. After the race, she had a message for the onlookers who weren’t into getting dirty.
“Suck it up and do it next year!” she shouted.
While Run Amuck is technically a race, not everyone came dressed for speed. A Viking hat, ballet skirts, and the combat utilities of the German Air Force were considered appropriate attire for the mud. Some of the runners even took their time to enjoy the different stations, said Nate Delong, an Arlington, Va., native.
“We had a mini mud fight in the second mud pit,” said Amy Lang, who came with Delong. “I’m definitely glad I wore old clothes.”
Run Amuck is the most unusual of the ten-race Marine Corps Marathon series, said Nealis. Making the runners stop and get out of their rhythm makes the challenge more “Marine-like,” a test that wasn’t lost on some of the muddy finishers.
“This was great – even awesome,” said Chris Park, a 17-year-old Stafford, Va., native who plans on joining the Marines. “I feel more prepared, because Marines do stuff like this.”
Sgt. Justin Jensen, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico, signed his wife and himself up as a chance to bond and show her a part of his life.
“It definitely was a lot of fun … and dirty,” exclaimed the Murphy, N.C., native. “It’s a good example of what Marines are like because we’re amphibious and willing to do anything.”
Runners started in waves, so the winner wasn’t announced until long after the last finisher dragged his muddy shoes across the finish line. William Mikolajczak, 24, a Triangle, Va., native whose father is a retired Marine, claimed his third victory in the three-year-old race, and Robin Witlin, an Oak Hill, Va., native, claimed the title of fastest female. But the result for most of the finishers was that they had fun, which made the race director call it a success.
“Mud is a badge of honor out here,” said Nealis. “Run Amuck is truly a special event.”